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In honor of actor Andy Garcia and his (unintentionally) hilarious reaction to Sofia (Mary Corleone) Coppola's death scene in "The Godfather, Part III."
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September 30,1971

Posted 08-14-2017 at 09:52 PM by TommyJohn
Updated 06-25-2018 at 09:55 PM by TommyJohn

September 30,1971
vs. Milwaukee Brewers
at White Sox Park

In 1970, Bill Melton had shattered the 30 home run glass ceiling, becoming the first Sox player to achieve that total in one season, finally ending the lost season with a new team record 33.

The next year Melton was hardly content to rest on that laurel. He had another ceiling to break through-in the first 70 years of the American League, not one White Sox player had ever led the circuit in home runs. Not surprising, considering that no player on the team had even hit 30 until Melton came along. The closest the team had to a single season home run champion were Braggo Roth in 1915 and Gus Zernial in 1951. Both won the AL home run title in seasons in which they started out with the White Sox but were sent away in trades (that brought the Sox Shoeless Joe Jackson and Minnie Minoso).

Melton went in and out of the league lead during the season. In the final week it came down to him, Norm Cash of the Tigers and Reggie Jackson of the A's.

Melton went into the final two games of the season two home runs behind Jackson and Cash, who each had 32. On the night of the 29th, Chuck Tanner batted Melton leadoff against the Brewers in order to give him an extra at-bat or two. It worked, as Melton ripped two homers to tie the other two guys for the league lead. However, both Jackson and Cash ended their seasons that night. Melton had one more matinee against Milwaukee, giving him a chance to break the three way tie and win the crown outright.

2,814 fans turned out on a crisp Thursday afternoon to see the season finale.They also came out knowing that they had a chance to witness team history.

Melton, batting leadoff again, broke his bat in the 1st inning, later admitting that he was trying too hard.

The second time proved to be the charm. Melton stepped in against Parsons in the 3rd and got a hold of a fastball. The crowd roared with delight as the ball zipped on a straight line into the left field stands. Melton took his triumphant home run trot as the crowd and the scoreboard saluted him. The White Sox had their first ever home run champion, and Bill Melton had a Rush Street nightclub pickup line for life.

Melty tossed his helmet into the stands as he came to the dugout. Tanner ordered him to go to his position for the next inning, which Melton did reluctantly. After one out, Walt Williams came out to replace him. Melton walked off the field to a sustained standing ovation. He responded by throwing his hat into the stands.

Roberto Pena of the Brewers lined out to Tony Muser at 1st for the final out of the game. The Sox walked off 2-1 winners to bring their final record to 79-83, an astonishing 23 game improvement over 1970. The season had been a remarkable one that had surpassed expectations. For the first time since the early 60s, a White Sox season had ended on a high note, one with bright hopes for the future.

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